I think there is some validity to this. This has got to be a part of the puzzle in reference to what horses "pick up" from their owners/handlers. When I am anxious and try to act like I am not - I am not fooling my horse. This makes so much sense. I must learn how to teach myself to "pulse down".
I would also suggest that we question what increases human's heart rate in those situations?
One more probable cause would be our change in how we smell.
That could be how the horses can tell, if not just because our body language changes, tension is added and they can detect that.
There are so many phenomenon out there. Like salmon migrating back to the river they were spawned in. Or dolphins/whales or even bird migration. Do they read the magnetic lines of the earth? I have read several scientific theories -but whatever the theory, they do it pretty much without error and they may have been doing it long before humans came along.
If little fish and little birds have such sophisticated systems, why not more advanced lifeforms such as horses and humans. What it is I don't know.
Hans was a pony who was reputed to count -which is different. This is a scientific experiment .
I am curious, because I do notice things when I ride. When all hell is breaking loose around me, as long as I am calm and stable, my horse is just fine. I started getting tense and I have trouble in my hands. But all this happens in a matter of seconds. So how does it work. In a matter of seconds does the horse figure out-oh that is scary and my rider is scared too-wham outta here. Or is it something else. I doubt the horse sits there rationalizing it like we do-so where do these reactions come from and how does a horse, even a nervous horse be calm with a calmer , confident rider.
I know and I experience it. Things got better when I started working on my own frame of energy and my way of asking. But how?? I don't know the mechanics. How does the horse suddenly realize -oh this one knows what he/she is doing. I would like to know the actual mechanics of it- not just ok the horse accepts you as boss or whatever. How on an actual physical level?
More experiments may be able to form some link. Did anyone know a few centuries ago that when you want to do something, the brain sends a current and that signals your hand to do it-well ok that is layman's terms-but just the mechanics. Why is a spooky rider on a sensitive horse bad-is it just a disoposition -yes the actual outer thing but is there a mechanical thing too-I would certainly like to know if there is a link-what is it that the horse senses-does it sense the rider's fear-if so then through which of its senses does it sense that?
I am just amazed at salmon and birds that migrate half way around the world every year -based on what? Not some mystical thing-but how -it is certainly a demonstrable , repeatable thing-but just amazed at how or what exact mechanism is it they use?
Same thing with horses-I get it -but why is my sensitive mare calm when everything around me is going awry as long as i tay calm and assertive and if I am scared and nervous even a little leaf blowing sets her off. What kind of mechanism is it and if science can find it, can it be altered? Just like we can cure other conditions that just decades ago could have been a death sentence?? I would love to know.
Clever Hans couldn't count. But he picked up on cues the people around him didn't even know they was giving. One of which may be heart rate.
While I haven't found the original scientific source, quite a lot of the on-line sources on Clever Hans say things like this:
Scientists since have discovered that horses (and dogs) can detect the heartbeat of a person near them and some have now proposed that as Clever Hans reached the correct answer, an increase in someone’s heart rate told him to stop tapping.
chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).